Archives For unreached people groups

Pastor Curtis Gilbert

“If they (your church) keep putting a cape on you, and you keep letting them, then you need to be rebuked. Because you are nobody’s Superman.”
– Pastor Curtis Gilbert on how a pastor needs his people as much as they need him.

Ministry can be chaotic, said Belleville pastor Curtis Gilbert. In fact, it definitely will be. What pastors are called to is not a calling of ease or of superficial comfort, Gilbert told leaders at the 2017 IBSA Pastors’ Conference, but one that will call everything out of you.

The pastor of The Journey’s Metro East campus opened the conference with an encouragement to pastors to acknowledge the chaos, and to assess their lives and ministries in four key ways described by the apostle Paul in Titus 1:5-9. The Scripture passage was the foundation for the conference and its theme, “Time for a Check-Up.”

Gilbert urged pastors to evaluate their own love for Jesus, for the gospel, for their family, and for God’s people.

“Even the sheep that bite you are precious souls,” Gilbert said, adding that pastors can become arrogant and impatient when they stop viewing church members as God’s children, and when they forget that they themselves are every bit as much a sinner as their people. Don’t delegate all the shepherding to other people, Gilbert told pastors.

“Be with the sheep; it gives your preaching credibility,” he said, emphasizing that a pastor needs his people as much as they need him.

Joe Valenti spoke after Gilbert and smilingly accused him of stealing his message. “What he preached to you is what I’m going to preach,” said the student and missions pastor from Cuyahoga Valley Church in Broadview Heights, Ohio. “Namely, that if you would fall in love with the God of the gospel, if he would be your everything, then everything else comes out of that.”

Valenti, whose church is engaged in reaching unreached people groups with the gospel, quoted pastor and author John Piper, who has said, “You cannot commend what you do not cherish.” When pastors treasure the God of the gospel, Valenti said, relying on him for everything and never forgetting the first day they experienced his grace, “missions comes out.”

There are more than 11,000 people groups in the world, Valenti said, and more than 7,000 are still unreached with the gospel. That’s not a problem for the International Mission Board or for missionaries or for the Cooperative Program, he said. Rather, “We need to see the completion of the Great Commission as a personal problem.”

Pastor Brad Pittman

Brad Pittman (center), pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Davis Junction, accepted this year’s IBSA Bivocational Pastor of the Year award this morning at the Pastors’ Conference in Decatur. 

In light of eternity
The mass shooting at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas, just two days before the conference began lent a heightened urgency to the meeting and the messages. Randy Johnson, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur, preached on how to share the gospel as if it’s going to be your last opportunity, while Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, told pastors the world they minister in is only getting darker.

The Christian worldview decreases a few percentage points every year, said Stetzer, former executive director of LifeWay Research and a long-time analyst of church and religion trends. And it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, he added.

“I’m convinced that one of the reasons Southern Baptists are declining is that we have hidden our light under a bushel,” Stetzer said. But as aliens and strangers in the culture—as exiles—can we love people in the midst of cultural change, he asked. “If we can’t, we have a lot of explaining to do to Christians who have—for 2,000 years—done that.”

The 2018 IBSA Pastors’ Conference is Nov. 6-7 at First Baptist Church, Maryville. Officers are Bob Stilwell, president; Ben Towell, vice president; and Rayden Hollis, treasurer.

Mission Illinois Offering Week of Prayer Day 6

MIO-box-small75% of Illinois’ 13 million people don’t know Jesus Christ. Almost 2 million residents are from outside the U.S. and many more have not understood their need for salvation. In Chicagoland, for example, “every block is a different world, every community is a different community with different races, different beliefs,” said Kenyatta Smith, planter and pastor of Another Chance church in Chicago’s Inglewood neighborhood.

In an area filled with killing and violence, Smith is dedicated to bringing the hope of God back into this community and offering people “another chance” just like he got, through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And he’s planting a second congregation in nearby—but very different — Evergreen Park.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering

Pray for spiritual awakening in Illinois, and the unreached people who live in our state.

Watch Kenyatta Smith’s story, “Reaching unreached people in Illinois.”

BIG_pic_0210HEARTLAND | It had been a long, frustrating boat ride.

Mark Emerson and Harold Booze were just off Africa’s west coast, trying to locate a people group everyone seemed familiar with, but no one could find. With evening approaching and no place to stay for the night, Emerson knew they needed to go back to Kamsar, the city they had left a few hours before.

Go to IBSA’s Facebook page for a slideshow from the trip.

“The crushing blow is, I’ve had to turn this boat around, and I haven’t gotten to give the Gospel to anyone,” he said.

Emerson and Booze had come to Guinea with three other Illinois Baptist pastors to share Bible stories with people in the mostly Muslim, largely illiterate country. The group had split up, each with a missionary guide and an interpreter, and each in search of people groups who haven’t yet been engaged with the Gospel.

On the boat, “I’m going to give the Gospel to somebody,” Emerson decided. Along with the boat captain, two other Guineans were also on board. Emerson started telling “every ship story of Jesus, one right after the other,” he said, laughing at the memory.

On a later visit to an historic village, the Americans took a turn as listeners, hearing the story of how the people had come to settle there. When they finished the detailed account, the villagers said, “You tell us a story.”

Emerson replied, “I’ve got a great one.”

The International Mission Board will host a Base Camp training conference March 28-29 at FBC, Woodlawn, Ill., for churches interested in engaging unreached people groups of Sub-Saharan Africa. E-mail for more information.

Mark Emerson, pictured here, and a team of four volunteers from Illinois spent a week in Guinea engaging people there with stories from the Bible.

Mark Emerson, pictured here, and a team of four volunteers from Illinois spent a week in Guinea engaging people there with stories from the Bible.

HEARTLAND | In Guinea on a short-term mission trip, Mark Emerson met his own version of the man from Macedonia (see Acts 16:9).

Emerson and fellow Illinois volunteer Harold Booze were waiting for a boat to take them and their missionary guide to share Bible stories with an unreached, unengaged people group. As they endured the six-hour wait, they met John, a soldier from a nearby village. When they told him where they were going and why, John asked, “Why are you passing by me?”

“So, on our return, we came back a day early to tell stories to him and his family,” Emerson said.

John was one of many Guineans who heard true stories from the Bible that week. Five volunteers from Illinois partnered with International Mission Board missionaries to locate and share with unreached people groups in the country. The mostly Muslim nation is largely non-literate; the people rely on stories to pass down their traditions and culture. In one historic village, the Americans listened first to the story of how the people had come to settle there. After detailing hundreds of years of their people group’s history – including specific names – the Guineans turned to the Americans and said, “You tell us a story.”

“I’ve got a great one,” Emerson said before launching into the account of the Good Samaritan.

The Bible stories were the group’s inroads into the villages, a way to begin building relationships so that missionaries and future teams can go back and keep sharing about Jesus. In a village where they stayed several days, the chief brought a sick child to them. After they prayed for him, the Muslim chief was so moved by the passion of their prayers that he took the group from place to place so they could pray for more people.

They met a man near death and prayed for him, that he would choose Jesus. Their missionary guide felt like they shouldn’t leave the room until they had given the man the Gospel, so, “I gave him the whole thing, the full-barrel Gospel,” Emerson said. The man didn’t turn to Christ, but the missionary encouraged Emerson and the other volunteers. “At least he had a choice.”

“My responsibility is to help people have a choice,” Emerson said once back in the U.S. “I didn’t win anybody to Jesus, but I got a whole lot of people closer.” Like the chief who told him, with his hand on his own chest, “God has designed us to know Him in our hearts.”